Smoking ban takes effect in England

By Xinhua

London : England went smoke-free in all enclosed public places and the workplace as new legislation that bans smoking in all public places came into force Sunday.

Support TwoCircles

Shops, offices, factories, pubs, cafes, restaurants, membership clubs, public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person are all covered by the Health Act 2006, which took effect at 6 a.m. (0700 GMT).

Support for a smoke-free England is strong, with almost 80 percent of the public backing the legislation. Even the vast majority of people who do smoke say they want to give up.

New Health Secretary Alan Johnson said on the occasion, "The scientific and medical evidence is clear – second-hand smoke kills.

There is no safe level of exposure. This legislation means that thousands of lives will be saved and the health of everybody will be protected."

"We have worked hard over the last seven months to ensure that everyone is aware of the new law, how it affects them and what they need to do. Support has been provided to businesses and individuals by the department of health and local councils and we are confident that England is ready," Johnson said.

Hot on the heels of the smoke-free legislation, British authorities will be raising the minimum legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18 years old Oct 1.

The smoke-free law is intended to cut deaths related to second-hand smoke. According to medical estimates, second-hand smoke kills more than 600 people a year.

Under the law, starting Sunday, anyone lighting up illegally could be fined 50 pounds ($100), but the fine could be reduced to 30 pounds ($60) if paid within 15 days. The figure rises to 200 pounds ($400) if an individual is prosecuted and convicted by a court.

Businesses failing to comply with the ban could be hit with fines of up to 2,500 pounds ($5,000).